Chicken Paella

Chicken Paella

Paella is probably Spain’s most popular dish.  It originated in the Valencia region located in Eastern Spain but can be found worldwide specially in countries that were once part of colonial Spain namely Cuba and the Philippines where it is also call Arroz Valenciana.

The word Paella mean “pan” in the Valencian dialect.  It is usually made and served in a “paella” pan which is basically a somewhat flat shallow skillet with or without a cover.  It is typically made with Bomba rice, a short grain rice variety cultivated in Spain’s eastern region.  Traditional Valencian Paella includes some type of meat such as chicken, duck, or rabbit, and some type of green bean.  It’s iconic yellow colored rice is achieved by adding saffron threads while cooking.

In modern time Paella has been adapted to use ingredients easily found in different areas of the country.  One of the most popular, an my favorite is Paella de Marisco which is seafood mixed with the rice.  This usually has shrimp, mussels or clams, squid, and sometimes lobster; is usually omits the vegetables.  Then there’s Paella Mixta which combines meats including Chorizo (Spanish pork sausage), seafood, and vegetables.  In short these days you can pretty much put whatever you want in a pealla.  My husband prefers chicken or vegetarian Paella.

When I was growing up surrounded by grandmothers, aunts, and uncles many of whom were fantastic cooks, Arroz Valenciana or Paella was a treat.  It would certainly be on a party menu, specially at Christmas.  These days I usually have to get my Paella fix in Spain.  It’s always one of our favorites when we’re in Barcelona, Majorca, or any part of Spain.

But since our yearly visits to Spain will not be possible this year we’ve found ourselves missing our favorite Spanish foods.  That’s why I’ve been making tapas boards lately.  I’ve also been making Paella.  In fact I’ve been making it often enough that’s I’ve recently decided to order a paella pan.

Today I’ll share my recipe for Chicken Paella because it’s ingredients are probably the easiest to find.  In fact you may already have it in your kitchen pantry.  I mentioned that Paellas are typically made with Bomba rice, but it’s not always easy to find in the US, at least in Hawaii.  I usually use Japanese short grain rice, the type you use to make sushi which is always found at any Asian market.  Saffron is not easily found in regular supermarkets  because it’s pretty expensive.  I usually buy Saffron when I’m in Turkey or the Middle East where it’s readily available at the local spice markets at a reasonably lower price.  If you don’t have Saffron you can use ground Turmeric to tint the rice yellow, but don’t use too much as it will leave a different flavor than what you want to achieve.  I’d use no more than a teaspoon of turmeric powder dissolved in a cup of chicken stock.

Chicken Paella

Ingredients:

1/2 Tsp. Crushed Saffron Threads

1/2 Cup White Wine

1/8 Cup Olive Oil

6-8 Chicken Thighs Bone-In with Skin

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Onion Chopped

2 Tbl. Minced Garlic

1 Tbs. Fresh Thyme chopped

1 1/2 Cup uncooked Bomba or other short grain rice

3 Cups Chicken Stock

Juice of 1 Lemon

1 Small Bag Frozen Peas

1 Red Pepper cut into strips

American Parsley – chopped (optional)

Lemon Wedges (optional)

Directions:

Stir Saffron into wine and set aside.

Heat Olive Oil in Paella pan or large skillet.

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Place thighs in heated oil skin side down and cook until golden brown, about 6-7 minutes.

Turn over and cook another 4-5 minutes.

Remove chicken from pan and set aside.  (You may have to cook chicken in batches depending on how big your pan is and how many thighs you are using.)

Add onions, garlic, and thyme to pan.  Cook for about 2 minutes, stir constantly to keep it from burning.

Add Rice and cook another 2 minutes while stirring constantly.

Add wine and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Stir in lemon juice and chicken stock.

Place chicken skin side  up on top of rice, cover, reduce heat to medium.

Simmer about 18 minutes until rice is almost cooked, it should be “al dente”.

Remove cover and add peas and pepper evenly over the pan.

Turn up heat to medium high and cook another 5 minutes or until rice begins to brown on the bottom and sides.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve hot with lemon wedges.

This dish pairs well with a pitcher of Sangria or a nice bottle of fruity red wine or a Chardonnay for white wine lovers.


Chicken Paella
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Chicken Paella
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Gambas al Ajillo Tapas – Shrimp in Garlic Sauce

Gambas al Ajillo Tapas – Shrimp in Garlic Sauce

Serving Tapas always remind me of my many trips to Barcelona.  One of my favorite tapas are Gambas al Ajillo or Shrimp in Garlic Sauce.  I love them with lots of crusty bread for dipping in that butter garlic sauce.

Tapas are small servings of Spanish foods.  They’re usually eaten with wine or cocktails in the evenings before dinner.  We enjoy them with a nice pitcher of Sangria.  They’re a great way to sample a variety of Spanish dishes.  I like to order a variety of Tapas and make a whole meal out of them.

Gambas al Ajillo are exactly like Shrimp Scampi.  They are delicious and best of all very easy to make!   I serve them hot off the stove on a mini cast iron skillet or a ceramic ramekin with lots of crusty baguette slices.  Here’s my recipe!

Gambas al Ajillo

Ingredients:

20 Medium shrimp (41/50 count) – peeled and de-veined with tail on

1 Tbs. Olive Oil

1/4 Stick Butter

1 Tbs. Finely Minced Garlic

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

Directions:

Heat Olive Oil in small skillet.

Melt butter in hot oil.

Add garlic and cook until garlic starts to turn brown.  Stir constantly to keep garlic from burning.

Add shrimp and cook until shrimp turns pink.

Squeeze lemon juice over all.

Serve hot with crusty slices of bread.

Gambas al Ajillo Tapas - Shrimp in Garlic Sauce
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Gambas al Ajillo Tapas - Shrimp in Garlic Sauce
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Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki

One of our family traditions are Sunday night barbecues when family and friends drop by for dinner and a visit.  Everyone looks forward to this weekly event.

Sometimes coming up with a different menu for the barbecues can be a challenge.  Last week we decided it would be Greek night so my daughter-in-law and I  made Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Dip.

We love Greece and Greek food.  We’ve been trying different recipes to  replicate the souvlaki and tzatziki we enjoy whenever we’re in Greece.

This weekend we made Tzatziki exactly how the owner of The Music Cafe in Myknos, one of our favorite cafes in Greece, taught us.  It was delicious.

I decided to try my hand at creating a new recipe for the souvlaki.  I marinated the chicken overnight in yogurt and spices, it turned out tender, juicy, and delicious!  The yogurt keeps the chicken tender and juicy and fresh dill gives them the extra yum!

Tzatziki is a yogurt dip or sauce.  It can be served with fresh crusty baguettes for dipping, and used as a sauce over the chicken.  Either way it’s delicious.

Both the Tzatziki and Souvlaki are easy to make.  The chicken should be marinated over night or for at least 3 hours, the longer it marinates in the fridge the tastier and tender it will be when grilled.  The Tzatziki can be make ahead of time and chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.

Both dishes will now be permanent additions to our Sunday night barbecues.  Here are the recipes, perhaps you can try them out this coming Memorial Day.  Both recipes can be doubled or tripled for larger gatherings.

Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Chicken Souvlaki

Makes 9-10 kebobs

Ingredients:

2 lbs. thawed chicken tenderloins – if the pieces are too large you may have to cut them in half lengthwise to make strips no larger than 2″ wide.

1 cup WHOLE milk plain Greek yogurt.  Be sure it’s whole milk, the fat free or 2% won’t work.

1 tbls. minced garlic

2 tbls. olive oil

1 tsp. dried or fresh oregano – crushed or minced

1/2 tsp dried or fresh rosemary – crushed or minced

1 tbls. fresh dill – finely chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

Add chicken strips; mix well making sure the chicken is well coated in the yogurt mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at least 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.  It’s a good idea to stir the chicken several time while it’s marinating to ensure all pieces are coated with the yogurt mixture.

Place the marinated chicken on skewers – two pieces fit nicely on 12″ skewers.

Grill on medium heat until chicken is well cooked.  About 5-6 minutes on each side.  Don’t over cook the chicken, it will become dry and hard.

Serve immediately with Tzatziki, and whatever side dishes you prefer.

Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Tzatziki

Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 medium cucumbers

2 cups WHOLE milk yogurt

1 tbls. olive oil

1 tbls. minced garlic

2 tbls. fresh minced dill

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt to taste

Directions:

1.  Peal cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the middle part including the seeds.

2.  Finely grate cucumber in to a mixing bowl.

3.  Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the grated cucumber, discard liquid and keep the grated cucumber.

4.  Add yogurt to cucumber and mix well.

5.  Add olive oil, garlic, and dill to the mixture and mix well.

6.  Remove lemon seeds and squeeze lemon juice into the mixture and mix well.

7.  Add salt to taste.

Chill until ready to serve.  Can be served as sauce for the Chicken Tzatziki or as a dip with crusty fresh bread or pita chips.  If serving as a dip portion into small bowls and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 3 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 3 Hours
Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 3 Hours
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
10 Minutes 3 Hours
Ingredients
Servings: Servings
Instructions
Souvlaki
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add chicken strips; mix well making sure the chicken is well coated in the yogurt mixture.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at least 3 hours or overnight in the fridge. It's a good idea to stir the chicken several time while it's marinating to ensure all pieces are coated with the yogurt mixture.
  4. Place the marinated chicken on skewers - two pieces fit nicely on 12" skewers.
  5. Grill on medium heat until chicken is well cooked. About 5-6 minutes on each side. Don't over cook the chicken, it will become dry and hard.
  6. Serve immediately with Tzatziki, and whatever side dishes you prefer.
Tzatziki
  1. Peal cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the middle part including the seeds.
  2. Finely grate cucumber in to a mixing bowl.
  3. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the grated cucumber, discard liquid and keep the grated cucumber.
  4. Add yogurt to cucumber and mix well.
  5. Add olive oil, garlic, and dill to the mixture and mix well.
  6. Remove lemon seeds and squeeze lemon juice into the mixture and mix well.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Chill until ready to serve.
Recipe Notes

Tzatziki can be served as sauce for the Chicken Souvlaki or as a dip with crusty fresh bread or pita chips. If serving as a dip portion into small bowls and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

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